The Vancouver Aquarium is a self-supporting, non-profit association dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life. Home to over 70,000 animals, the Aquarium has attracted more than 35,000,000 visitors since 1956. The organization uses the GobiSOFT carbon management software to track and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Tara Schaufele, Sustainability Manager at Vancouver Aquarium, provides her perspective on why the company is measuring and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.
Why has Vancouver Aquarium decided to track and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions?
At the Vancouver Aquarium we continually work to fulfill our mission to conserve aquatic life through display and interpretation, education, research and direct action. Since the Aquarium recognizes that all elements of the environment are connected and environmental changes affect all species, we feel it is important to reduce our environmental impact. With environmental impacts resulting from GHG emissions becoming an increasing global concern and the city of Vancouver’s stated goal to make the city a sustainable tourism destination, the Vancouver Aquarium decided to start tracking its GHG emissions and to establish a program to reduce those emissions.
What specific actions has your business taken or planned to reduce its emissions to date?
The Vancouver Aquarium has taken several steps to reduce its GHG emissions. Staff have come together and developed a ‘Green Team’. Members of this team challenge employees to adopt more sustainable lifestyle choices including methods of commuting to work, sourcing local food options and more. The Aquarium has also developed several environmental management programs to help reduce its GHG emissions. Through these programs we have implemented a number of actions. For example, we:
What benefits do you see from tracking and reducing greenhouse gases?
As a non-profit conservation-oriented organization, the Vancouver Aquarium faces a number of unique challenges. One of those is ensuring that we are genuinely following through with our commitments to conservation, a large part of which is done through research and education. One of the main themes of our conservation message is the interconnectivity of environmental processes, and the ways that our individual actions can affect ecosystems around the globe. Addressing and reducing the environmental impacts of our own operations is clearly an important part of our mission. Another challenge we face is maintaining fiscal responsibility and economic viability without sacrificing our commitment to conservation and environmental sustainability. By implementing a tracking system for greenhouse gases we also are able to track purchasing of paper, fuel, and other products and services, which can help us ensure responsible budgeting and provide opportunities to save money, thereby improving conservation initiatives. As well, we believe that we are in a position to be a role model for other tourism-oriented organizations looking to reduce their environmental impacts, and could be involved in creating new standards for sustainable tourism, thereby expanding the positive environmental impacts of our conservation efforts far beyond the scope of the Vancouver Aquarium. Finally, because we are a non-profit conservation organization we are dependent on several sources of revenue to further our conservation efforts. For this reason it is very important that our patrons, partners, employees and volunteers are all assured that their contributions are supporting our stated mission: conservation of aquatic life.
Why did your business choose the Gobi tool for managing its emissions?
Gobi allows for consistency, something that was lacking in our initial tracking system. The calculation tool in Gobi ensures that all emissions are calculated accurately, following a consistent methodology and the reporting mechanisms are clear and easy to read even for those who do not fully understand GHG concepts. Furthermore, when we asked the Gobi producers to provide us with support and information about their system they responded promptly. Quick responses and support are crucial when using a database or software program, so we can continue working.